Valentijn Dhaenens has been reading a lot of speeches from world history – in fact, at least one per day for the past year. The result of his exploration is the 90 minute showcase, Bigmouth.
A simple stage with 9 microphones of various shapes and sizes in front of a “blackboard” listing famous names and dates, and a man in a grey suit… not what you would immediately think was creative Adelaide Festival fare.
Juxtaposing speeches from different times and places, often performed in the original language (with sur-titles) and intonated in a homage to each character, Bigmouth is a study in voice more than anything. Dhaenens embodies each orator and intertwines each speech with musical pieces purely created from voice and repetition technology.
[pull_left]the fact that only one speech was by a female brings into question the balance of the piece and leaves a slight taste of mysogyny[/pull_left]
Hearing elements of Goebel’s sinister speech to the German people, intertwined with Patton’s gun-ho speech to the US people is a highlight, demonstrating that no one in that War was a hero, and no one was innocent.
Equally, hearing George W Bush’s words both after the 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2006 Katrina disaster are eerily similar, yet more eloquent than imagined.
While the choice of speeches is intriguing and certainly a captivating montage, the fact that only one speech was by a female brings into question the balance of the piece and leaves a slight taste of mysogyny… although perhaps this is a reflection on human society and the emphasis on war and death being a primarily male construct?
If nothing more, Bigmouth reminds audiences that war is an international concern and death has followed humans throughout the ages. A welcome start to the Adelaide Festival 2014.